With descriptions of “unstoppable energy”, “elemental dynamism” and “continual, exciting drama”, Tom Service has devoted his blog on The Guardian this week to examining the music of Harrison Birtwistle. Commenting on the potent visceral drive in Birtwistle’s work, he is particularly struck by the music’s suggestion of the “animating vital spark that’s going on behind the surface of our lives, which is teeming under the skin of the natural world.” For Service, this primordial impulse is “always striving, always searching, always moving”, infusing Birtwistle’s music with a “fundamentally dramatic impetus”.
This theatrical element in Birtwistle’s music is to be explored by The Opera Group and London Sinfonietta in their production of Bow Down which commences this week in Brighton, and will subsequently be performed throughout the summer as part of the Norfolk and Norwich Festival, Spitalfields Music Summer Festival, and the Latitude Festival. Also this month, the London Sinfonietta will give the UK premiere of In Broken Images in a concert devoted to Harrison Birtwistle’s music at the Queen Elizabeth Hall on 24 May, featuring an on-stage discussion between Tom Service and the composer.
Read Tom Service’s article in the Guardian here.
Listen to Tom Service interview Harrison Birtwistle on BBC Radio 3’s “Music Matters” programme here.
Watch Harrison Birtwistle in rehearsal with the Opera Group here.